Wearing braces can ultimately give you a healthier and more attractive smile. In the short-term, though, your gums in particular may be in for a rough ride.
While we're all susceptible to gum disease, braces wearers are more likely to encounter it. This stems from two related factors: the difficulty braces pose to oral hygiene; and the potential irritation of soft tissues by the braces themselves.
The main cause for any form of gum disease is dental plaque, a thin bacterial film that accumulates on teeth. Removing plaque through brushing and flossing greatly reduces the risk of any dental disease. But braces wires and brackets make it difficult to brush and floss—as a result, some plaque deposits may escape cleaning, which makes a gum infection more likely.
To exacerbate this, braces hardware can irritate the gums and cause swelling and tissue overgrowth, also known as hyperplasia. The one-two punch of ineffective hygiene with hyperplasia are why braces wearers have a higher incidence of gum problems compared to the general population.
To guard against this, patients with braces need to be extra vigilant about keeping their teeth and gums clean of plaque. It may be helpful in this regard to use specialized tools like interproximal brushes with narrower bristle heads that are easier to maneuver around braces.
And rather than using traditional flossing thread, orthodontic patients may find it easier and more effective to use pre-loaded flossing picks or an entirely different method called oral irrigation. The latter involves a handheld wand that directs a stream of pulsating water between teeth to loosen and flush away plaque.
It's also important for patients to see their dentist as soon as possible for any gum swelling, bleeding or pain. The dentist can determine if it relates to gum disease, hyperplasia or a combination of both, and recommend treatment. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to remove the braces until the gums heal, so catching and treating any gum problem early is a priority.
Regardless of the risk for gum disease, orthodontic treatment is still well worth the investment in your health and appearance. Practicing effective oral hygiene and keeping a watchful eye on your gums will help further lower that risk.
If you would like more information on oral care during orthodontic treatment, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Gum Swelling During Orthodontics.”
Maintaining your oral health is important when you want to keep tartar, plaque, and stains away. Having annual dental exams and biannual teeth cleanings with your dentist in Portage, MI at Wester Dental Care is imperative to ensuring your oral health remains at its best. Dr. Jennifer Sarantos and Dr. Keith Wester will look for signs of tooth decay and remove food particles, plaque, and tartar from the mouth. A teeth cleaning is a proven way to ensure both your overall health and oral health remain intact.
What Happens During a Teeth Cleaning?
During teeth cleaning your doctors create a customized treatment plan for each patient depending on their findings during their dental exam. Teeth cleanings are comprehensive and can include the following:
- Medical History: We will want to learn about your general health, any medications or supplements you take, and any prior oral health issues or surgeries you have had.
- Dental exam and X-rays: Dental exams are generally conducted once a year, at every other dental cleaning at Wester Dental Care. These exams give us the chance to evaluate your teeth, gums, bite, and jaw. We will also take X-rays that offer us important information on what’s going on in areas that we cannot see with the naked eye. This can include problems with dental restorations, jaw issues, or deep tooth decay. We also perform an oral cancer screening where we look for precancerous or cancerous tumors, lesions, or masses. Early detection is important when it comes to oral cancer.
- Prophylaxis: Much of your routine dental cleaning will involve removing plaque and tartar. When there’s plaque and tartar in your mouth, it invites bacteria to live and produces acids in the mouth that will significantly damage your teeth and gums. We will scale these materials from your teeth to help reduce your risk of tooth decay. We can also polish surface stains on your teeth.
- Gum disease evaluation: We will look for signs of gum disease while recording periodontal measures of the spaces between the teeth and gums. We use these measurements to compare progress at each teeth cleaning to determine if your gum health is either improving or worsening.
How Often Should I Get a Teeth Cleaning?
We recommend getting a tooth cleaning from your dentist in Portage, MI, at least twice a year. For patients with gum disease or other oral health problems, more frequent routine dental cleanings are necessary.
Does a Teeth Cleaning Hurt?
Honestly, it shouldn’t. However, if you have tooth decay or gum disease symptoms such as gum inflammation, there may be increased tooth sensitivity. Tell us if you’re experiencing pain or discomfort as we can offer you a medicated gel or prescription rinse that will help make your cleaning more comfortable.
Schedule Your Routine Teeth Cleaning Today
Maintaining your teeth and gums with annual routine dental exams and routine dental cleanings is important when you want to look and feel your best, Dr. Sarantos and Dr. Wester work diligently to help improve their patients’ lives with superior dental care services. To schedule routine teeth cleaning with your dentist in Portage, MI, call us at (269) 327-1119.
Has your smile changed due to missing teeth? Dental implants provided by your Portage, MI, dentists, Drs. Keith Wester and Jennifer Sarantos of Wester Dental Care, will fill the gaps in your smile.
Dental implants completely restore lost teeth
Dental implants are the only restoration method that replaces both the roots and crowns of missing teeth. The crown is the visible part of your tooth, while the root is located beneath your gums.
The process starts when your dentist makes a small opening in your jawbone and adds a small post, commonly called an implant. Dental implants replace the roots of lost teeth. Implants are made of titanium, a metal that easily bonds to the bone. In the course of three to six months, your implants will become firmly attached to your jawbone.
As soon as your dental implants are completely bonded, you'll visit the Portage, MI, dental office for the next step. Your dentist will attach a connector to the top of the implants and take an impression of your mouth that will be used to create your dental crowns. Your new crowns will restore the visible parts of your teeth. When you return to the office a few weeks later, your crowns will be attached to the implants with the connector, completing the restoration process.
Why dental implants are an excellent tooth restoration option
Roots give your teeth the power they need to bite, chew, and grind food. If you only replace the crown portions of missing teeth, you may have trouble eating tough or hard foods. Thanks to your dental implants, you'll be able to continue to eat your favorite foods.
Your new teeth may not be real, but they certainly won't feel that way. In fact, you probably won't notice a difference between your natural teeth and your implants.
Dental implants also offer important benefits for your oral health. Replacing missing teeth prevents your other teeth from shifting and overlapping. If this happens, it may be hard to completely remove plaque from teeth, which increases your risk of tooth decay. Implants keep your jawbone strong and reduce the risk of a condition called jawbone resorption. Resorption occurs when your bone shrinks due to lack of stimulation due to missing tooth roots. Sagging facial muscles and loose teeth can be consequences of jawbone resorption. Fortunately, you won't have to worry about these issues if you choose dental implants.
Restore your missing teeth with dental implants! Call (269) 327-1119 to schedule an appointment with your dentists in Portage, MI, Dr. Wester and Dr. Sarantos of Wester Dental Care.
It gradually dawned on our ancient ancestors that a healthy mouth was usually a clean one. To achieve that blessed oral state, they chewed on tree bark or employed primitive toothbrushes like bamboo sticks with hog hair bristles attached to their ends.
Today, we have better tools and methods for achieving a cleaner and healthier mouth. But these advancements do little good if a) we don't use them on a daily basis, and b) we're not proficient with them.
October is National Dental Hygiene Month, highlighting once again the importance of these two points for keeping teeth and gums as clean as possible. First and foremost, oral hygiene should never take a holiday—even a day or two of accumulated plaque, the bacterial biofilm that builds up on teeth surfaces, can trigger the occurrence of gum disease or tooth decay.
But while "showing up" every day to brush and floss goes a long way toward a healthy mouth, you also need to perform these tasks well. An inadequate job can leave residual plaque that could still cause disease.
Here are a few handy tips to improve your oral hygiene routine.
Do a thorough job. Plaque can be stubborn, clinging to the nooks and crannies of teeth and around the gum lines—and it can easily be missed while brushing. Be sure, then, to thoroughly work your toothbrush's bristles into all dental surfaces. Your efforts should take about 2 minutes to complete.
Don't be too aggressive. You may need "elbow grease" to clean your floors, but not your teeth. Too much pressure applied while brushing can damage enamel and gums. Instead, go easy when you brush and let the toothpaste's mild abrasives do the heavy lifting.
Use flossing tools. Many people avoid flossing because they find it too hard or cumbersome with traditional flossing thread. If this is a problem for you, consider using a flossing tool—a floss threader or pick, or even a water flosser appliance that uses pressurized water to break up and remove plaque.
Take the "tongue test." Wondering how well you're doing with your hygiene efforts? One quick way to find out is the "tongue test": Simply swipe your tongue across your teeth just after brushing and flossing. If they feel gritty rather than smooth, you may have left some plaque behind.
Besides your personal hygiene efforts, be sure you also have your teeth cleaned regularly by a dental hygienist to rid your mouth of any residual plaque and tartar (hardened plaque)—these can also cause dental disease. Professional care coupled with proficient daily hygiene will help ensure you have cleaner mouth and better dental health.
If you would like more information on the best ways to incorporate oral hygiene into your life, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine article “Daily Oral Hygiene.”
Braces are so common that we often view them as "ho-hum." But there are aspects about braces that make them remarkable. For one, the fact that we can move teeth at all is a wonder of nature.
We normally experience our teeth as firmly set in the jaw, which can easily lead to assuming they're permanently fixed to the bone. They're not. Teeth are actually held in place by a fibrous gum tissue called the periodontal ligament that lies between them and the jawbone. The ligament anchors to both with tiny fibers, which on the tooth side affixes within a thin substance called cementum deposited on the tooth root.
As we said, we don't normally notice teeth moving. But the periodontal ligament does allow movement on a miniscule scale as a response to normal pressures that accompany biting and chewing. Although we're unaware of it, this movement takes place as the bone and cementum ahead of the direction of movement begin to dissolve. Simultaneously, new bone and cementum develops on the other side of the tooth to stabilize the movement.
Orthodontic treatment takes advantage of this natural process. The anchored wires of braces through attached brackets place pressure on the teeth in the intended direction for tooth movement. The natural mechanism described earlier does the rest. Over time, orthodontists have developed an amazing amount of precision working within this mechanism.
Another aspect about braces and other methods we may take for granted is our motive for even trying to move teeth in the first place. It may seem we're only realigning teeth to produce a more attractive smile—which they can do and why we often refer to braces as the "original smile makeover." But there's an even greater desire—straightening teeth can improve dental health.
Poor bites in turn cause other problems. Misaligned teeth are more difficult to keep clean of bacterial plaque, which increases the risk of disease. A poor bite can also accelerate teeth wear and contribute to gum problems like recession. We can eliminate or minimize these problems through bite correction.
Whatever your age, braces or other means can vastly benefit your health and your appearance. They may not always seem so, but braces are one of the true wonders of dental care.
If you would like more information on bite correction through orthodontics, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Moving Teeth With Orthodontics.”
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